Note: I saw that the pictures from my last post didn’t upload for everyone. I think I have it corrected. If you want to go back to the previous post you should be able to see them. (Especially the picture of Mitzie!)
Good Morning everyone!
Spring made a pivotal move this week. Daffodils! Nothing says “Spring is getting the upper hand” like daffodils. They are popping up in my yard like happy little soldiers, blaring a yellow trumpet call that Spring is on it’s way.
Update on the Marcy Jacket (Vogue 9287). I sent a fan-email to Marcy.com telling them I wrote about Marcy in my blog. Two days later they had a “Double Dip Sale” of 25% off all their already “on sale” fabrics. I am pretty sure she did that for me…….don’t you think? Of course, I bought some fabric. What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t? On to the update:
We are on week two of the Marcy jacket. Last week I got to step 12 and this week I am on………step 13. There is a good reason for this. I ended up making a sideline into seam edges. I am not sure that it qualifies as a detour. It was more like; you’ve packed the car and loaded everyone up for your sewingjourney but you run into Les Schwab to get chains for your tires because you know there will be snow. Let me explain:
Images of the Fraying Jacket:
All week I stared at the Marcy Jacket and thought about it’s tendency to shred. I swear, it’s edges would unravel and fray out…..while I slept! What to do?? Well, I think you know me well enough to know the first thing I did. I asked Google. “How do you work with fabric that frays easily.” She sent me to a million posts (and a couple of YouTube videos) that talked about fraying fabric, seam edges and finishing seams. At first, it was a lot of jumbled information but eventually I landed on a few key ideas.
First, it’s not impossible to work with fabric that frays. Second, if your fabric frays, then it is critical to finish your seams. (BTW, “finishing your seams” means doing something extra to the seam edge to prevent raveling and to make it more stable.) Third, it would have been better if I had thought about this before I started sewing the jacket (story of my life….). Turns out there are a ton of ways to finish seams. I will share the ones I seriously considered and tell you what I ultimately did (it was a bit of a hodge-podge).
Use a zigzag stitch. Oh my dear sweet baby Zigzag!! I love you and you are so practical!!! Of course, I had already used this technique. I knew that a good zigzag can help fabric stay intact so I stitched them along some of the pattern pieces before sewing AND zigzagged the two seam edges together after sewing. I thought I could fold the edges over and do a topstitch later to make it all lie flat and quiet when I was finished. The zigzags helped, but sadly, it wasn’t perfect. The material still shredded and fluffed out around the stitches and I didn’t think it would hold up over time. Also, the jacket is unlined and all that fluffiness and fray looks……..well, it looks weird.
Use pinking shears. Several blogs said to “pink” (trim) the raw edges of a seam to keep it from raveling. I was doubtful. I hadn’t used a pair of pinking shears since I was in 8th grade at Hanford Junior High (go Wildcats!). I didn’t know they were even still a “thing”. However, I decided to give it a try. I dug though a box of old sewing stuff and found a pair of pinking shears that looked like they were used by Vikings. They were huge and heavy.
These shears must have come from my mom or her Sewing Sister Charleen because I would remember if I had bought them. Anyhoo, I welded that baby like it was a machete in a coffee grove. And, it turns out that pinking is a genius move!!! I was limited by the previous zigzag stitching but the little zigzaggy edges of the pinking shears AND the zigzaggy edges of the stitches worked together perfectly to clean up A LOT of the fray and fluff that had been bugging me. However, I still had the problem of the jacket being unlined. Would the inside seams hold up with washing and wear or would they self destruct like the tape recorder in an old Mission Impossible episode? I felt I needed one more thing. Just as a safety net.
French seams. French seams are cool and I actually know how to do them! You sew the garment with the wrong sides together then flip the garment and stitch again to make it look right. However, I already put in regular seams and there wasn’t enough seam allowance (length on the edges) to do a Fake French seam. So, that was out.
Hong Kong finish. I don’t know anything about a Hong Kong finish but I reee-allly like it’s name. It conjures up visions of the 50’s; with tailors and tailoresses in white linen suits sitting in over-sized wicker chairs sipping Singapore Slings and Sloe Gin Fizzes while they discuss their latest work. Lovely. I decided to dive into this technique and checked out some Threads articles and two super helpful posts by Closet Case Patterns and Itch to Stitch. A Hong Kong finish is when you wrap bias tape around each edge of your seam and stitch it down. You can use single fold or double fold bias, and you can make your own tape to match your garment. Very cool. Enclosing those stubborn little edges seemed like just the right move. However, I had already stitched my seam edges together with the zigzag. There wasn’t enough room on each side to do it the way you are supposed to. Do you think that stopped me??????
Here is what I did. I made a version of a Hong Kong finish. Or I think it is a version. I am not sure. I put both edges of the seam together and wrapped them up in bias tape. What would you call that? An Improper Hong Kong Finish?? (as opposed to a Proper one?) A Hong Kong Finish with One Leg? A Hong Kong-Inspired Finish? Maybe an Alternatively-Abled Hong Kong finish. I don’t know what to call it, but it worked like a charm. I briefly thought about making my own bias tape out of that basket of silk ties that I have, but I’m glad I didn’t . Instead I used some purchased burgundy colored single fold bias tape (mainly because what is what I had on hand). It was a great choice because the tape was stiff enough to hold any stray fluff or frays in place while I stitched.
I applied the tape to the seams just like you do with a regular bias edge. Unfold the short edge so it lays out. Pin it right sides together to the edge of the fabric. Stitch in 1/4 inch. Press and turn the tape to cover the garment edge. Stitch again. “Voila!” (I know, you had been waiting to hear from the Blog Dogs to see how their French is getting along. They have “Voila” down and are working on “Merci”). Below are some pictures of what the seams looked like after all of the finishing. My plan still is to topstitch them later to make sure everything lays flat. What do you think? Personally, I like how the bias tape looks inside the jacket and I think it gives an extra level of prettiness to the construction. Also, it does the trick. The frays are gone and I know the garment wont self destruct when we wash it. I think I need to press a little more, it is decent for a first time effort!
I am considering using the Hong Kong finish on the edge of the jacket facings AND cutting up some of those ties to make the bias tape. I don’t have enough purchased bias tape on hand to finish all of the facings and I think I can make it look okay. Kind of Artsy-Schmartsy looking. Of course, I will show it to you as we go along and you can tell me what you think. I am also playing around with using French Seams at the sleeves. I think it will be easier than finishing the curves and it would be fun to give it a try……we can decide when we get there.
Update on the Pattern Weights
Last week I told you I was working on a “Love Collection” of pattern weights. Here it is:
Also, some people wondered which designers I was referring to in the Designer Collection:
Here they are:
- Stefano Gabbana
- Peggy Hartonto
- Dominico Dolce
- Mary Quaint
- Alexander McQueen
- Elizabeth Kackely. Elizabeth Kackely was the “modiste” for Mary Todd Lincoln and other prominent socialites in Washington DC during the 1860’s. What is distinctive about Elizabeth is she was born a slave in Virginia; lived an incredibly difficult life under slavery; persevered; and was able to purchase freedom for herself and her son as a result of her sewing. Her garments had impeccable fit and she was an early “re-fashioner”; taking apart and reworking gowns so that they could be worn for more than one social season. Little known fact: Elizabeth was also the favorite dressmaker of Varina Davis, (the wife of Jefferson Davis, who became the president of the Confederacy). Varina tried to convince Elizabeth to move back with her when they succeeded from the Union. Happily, Elizabeth said, “No”. She organized and funded the Contraband Relief Society after the war to help impoverished former slaves.
- Tom Ford
- Coco Chanel
- Karl Lagerfeld
- Tommy Hilfiger
- Elsa Schiaparelli
It is time to stop writing. We had a VER-RY productive day. We saved the life of the Marcy Jacket and in the process learned about finishing seams. We probably would have gotten marked down in my imaginary Home Ec class with our technique on the Hong Kong “Inspired” Finish (my friend Angie calls what we did, “schmicking it in”). But I think we gained enough knowledge to do a “proper” finish later. And besides, I don’t think you care that much about being “proper”. I think you like to fly without strings every-once-in-a-while.
Have a great week. I will talk to you in a couple of days. You are wonderful.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. ………… And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”The book of First Corinthians